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Loch Vale Gorge
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M5? hand crack T 
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M5? hand crack 

YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a WI4+ M5 R

Type:  Trad, Mixed, Ice, 1 pitch, 45'
Original:  YDS: 5.9+ French: 5c Ewbanks: 17 UIAA: VI ZA: 17 British: E1 5a WI4+ M5 R [details]
FA: unknown
Season: fall & winter
Page Views: 1,126
Submitted By: Leo Paik on Nov 17, 2002

You & This Route  |  Other Opinions (8)
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BETA PHOTO: Jenn on the M5 hand crack Nov. 12, 2008.


Lo and behold, this line has been scratched up before now. Eric spied this improbable line and it matches the topo in B. Gillett's guide as the "mixed direct start in hand crack (M5?)." We just thought it looked improbable as a mixed line as it seemed to be a lieback crack at a guessed 5.9+ with sticky rubber.

Find this little mixed problem on the right side of the Loch Vale Gorge main cliff. It lies just right of a moderate thin ramp finishing left of a prow of rock. You go up and right from the point where the trail intersects this wall just past the thin brown smear.

This problem turns out to be a challenge. Lieback, drytooling or using your hands. Then try to get back into the crack, but find that your crampons don't foot jam so well. The crux lies about 3/4 the way up the crack. Rest on a snow ledge. Fire up thin ice with some mixed moves to the top. I recommend avoiding this little arete on the left near the top as it could lead to disaster if you slip. Two new bolts are on the wall above the loose ledge. Perhaps 60-70 feet in all.

There are 2 more mixed starts to this same general line approximately 20 and 25 feet to the right. Perhaps M5- (left) and M4+ (right). Both are previously scratched up.


The slightly flaring crack can take bigger cams but the terrain above may be challenging for pro. You can sometimes put in stubbies on ice on the right above the crack. Then above that, hmmm.

Toprope Protection 

Best to TR. 2 bolts lie directly above this route though these can be awkward to reach. You can lead the WI3R smear to the L to access this spot. Beware below as yolu can fire off rocks as you set this up. We did.

Photos of M5? hand crack Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: Eric Chrisman scratching his way up
Eric Chrisman scratching his way up
Rock Climbing Photo: Leo's large hiney.
Leo's large hiney.
Rock Climbing Photo: Through the crux, sticks in the turf (2-6-11). Pho...
Through the crux, sticks in the turf (2-6-11). Pho...

Comments on M5? hand crack Add Comment
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By Nate Christiansen
Jan 27, 2003

This route is short and sweet, but it does pack a punch. 5.9+ may be a little overrated, but who cares, it's still m5. The one thing that is a little sketchy about this 25' problem is tooling the moss inside the hand crack. The feet are bomber the whole way. This year there is a little section about 10' to the right of the m5 that involves some technical difficuties(thin) and some long moves. I'd give it m4+. This crag is by far my favorite ice crag and am surprised I don't see more people there. Also, about 20' to the left is a great flow that hasn't been in for a few years that is this year. it involves 25' of tooling(approx. m5/6) to wi4 ice w/ a little bit of easy mixed. I'd love to try Strike Free Zone(wi5 m7+), but can't get some beta, I'd like to lead it, but safely. Any doers?
By erik rieger
From: Ridgway, CO
Jun 18, 2011

Start is tricky and steep but very awesome, protect with large nut or fingers/off fingers size cam. Tie-off stubbies in thin ice and then clip a piton when angle mellows out, head right over a roof hooking in steep snow/loose rock to a tree belay. A big snow pack at the bottom might alleviate the seriousness of a fall.

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